The median sales price for a home in Grand County in 2017 was $329,000, which is a $137,000 home at the 1984 inflation rate. Nationally, the median sales price in 1984 was about $80,000 ($192,000 in 2017).
To those of you who bought back then, could you have afforded $137,000 for your home without assistance? Did you have to consider substandard options because that was all that was available in your price range?
If you couldn’t afford it, hopefully you can try to understand why so many young families are struggling in this community today and why we say we have a housing crisis.
It’s not because the millennial generation is lazy or less willing to pick themselves up by their bootstraps. It’s not because they want to rely on subsidies.
It’s because this is a totally different ballgame.
Second homeowners increasingly drive our housing market. Real estate agents stopped selling the majority of their homes to locals years ago. If action is not taken now, wealthy vacationers will continue to eat up our R-2 zones and family-filled neighborhoods, and our local workforce will be increasingly forced out to Thompson Springs, La Sal, Monticello and beyond.
This lack of affordable, available housing is and will increasingly be one of the greatest inhibitors for young people to have the opportunity to invest in this community like so many did 30 years ago.
Rather than protect, deny or argue past policies, we need concrete, effective, time-efficient solutions to move forward.
The Affordable Housing Plan says we need 1,024 additional housing units by 2030 across all incomes to keep up with population growth. We need even more if we include the hundreds or thousands of residents who are currently living out of their vehicles, are experiencing homelessness or are forced into overcrowded conditions in substandard housing.
We need deed restrictions to protect our existing and future housing stock, and more density in order to make affordable developments pencil out. We need more opportunities for parents to cut their children a slice of their property. We need mechanisms to prioritize smart, compact development to ensure we are using water and infrastructure efficiently. We need to replace aging, dilapidated units with decent, safe and affordable ones.
Community leaders, we need you to listen to and prioritize the young families and the working class people who are looking to be the long-term future of this community in addition to those who were able to grow roots here decades ago.
Young people, we need you to engage with your community leaders. Tell them your struggles living and working here and the changes you need to see to stay here.
If you do not support the City of Moab’s and Grand County’s density increases, but wish to support affordable housing, tell your elected officials specifically how you want them to support affordable housing.
If not density, support accessory dwelling units and relaxed land-use regulations. If not support for physical solutions to housing, support public funding allocations. If not public dollars, donate your time, money or property to local organizations working to alleviate our housing crisis. If not in your neighborhood, show us where you see a future for inclusive, effective housing development and why, but I would encourage you to support your local workforce moving into your neighborhood over the inevitable second homeowner.
And if ultimately you have a different vision or other solutions for Moab’s future, I will respect and listen to you, but I will first ask you one simple question: for whose future are you planning?
Where will the children in our schools live if you do not provide real, effective, community-wide solutions soon? If you push out and ignore the needs of the youngest members who are trying to live and work in this community and allow outside forces to gobble up your neighborhoods — who will be Moab’s workforce in 20 years?
The young people — the future of Moab — need change. This community simply cannot afford to continue to protect the status quo.
Kaitlin Myers moved to Moab as an AmeriCorps VISTA and now works full time for Grand County. The opinions expressed are her own and do not reflect the views of the county or any other organizations with which she is affiliated.
“If action is not taken now, wealthy vacationers will continue to eat up our R-2 zones and family-filled neighborhoods, and our local workforce will be increasingly forced out to Thompson Springs, La Sal, Monticello and beyond.”